National Catholic Register


Letters 01.31.2010

BY The Editors

January 31-February 13, 2010 Issue | Posted 1/25/10 at 2:00 AM


Hidden Research

Regarding “Federal Study Confirms Contraception-Breast Cancer Link” (Daily Blog, Jan. 8):

I recall that in the ’60s, probably about 1967, some studies were done at a university that “proved” this same hypothesis with the drugs for this purpose that were being used then. My aunt started taking them, and I warned her not to — but she went ahead with it and did develop breast cancer of a very aggressive kind and passed away a short time later.

I have always believed it was the use of “the pill” that caused it. So why has this research been hidden for years? Do you know of those studies I am speaking of? The university involved may have been George Washington University. We have too much untruth prevailing in our nation today. Our history is also being seriously corrupted and debunked. I hope someone is keeping track of all of this. I feel sure there is a purpose in it and that the purpose is not a good one.

Mia Archer 

Bellevue, Nebraska

Context Is Everything

We read with interest yet concern Melinda Selmys’ article “Pride Cometh After a Blinding Embrace of Legalism” (Jan. 3). She slams as “legalism” the following: “Catholic women on the pill should be refused Communion, but it’s legitimate to use natural family planning for the first five years of my marriage in order to advance my career.”

We take serious issue with that. Does Selmys not know the difference?

The pill acts to abort after conceptualization to do its work, while natural family planning still keeps the couple open to fertilization. There is a huge difference between the two methods, and we hope that this young lady will do the research that will lead to a better understanding of what she is thinking and sharing.

Vivian and Kenneth Clarke

Sun City, California

Melinda Selmys responds: I’m not talking about the difference between natural family planning and the pill — I’m very aware of the difference (I use NFP; I think the pill is a crime against humanity) — I’m talking about hypocrisy. The woman who uses NFP frivolously is not actually, in any meaningful sense, “open to life.” Although the acts are very meaningfully different, on the level of intention both are committing sins of sexual selfishness: Both are trying to escape from the maternal vocation implicit in their fertility. Someone who is struggling to be open to life, who uses NFP without the best of justification but who at least isn’t using artificial birth control is definitely doing the right thing versus someone who contracepts. The problem is when that person mounts her high horse, charges for the moral high ground, smugly plants her flag upon its peak and sits there waiting for God to rain fire and brimstone down on those one step below her. At this point she is committing a sin of legalistic pride: She assumes that her adherence to the letter of the law puts her in a position to harshly condemn those who do not adhere.

Indulgences’ Exposure

Regarding the letter (“Indulgence Requirements,” Dec. 20) commenting on my letter on plenary indulgences (“Under Indulgent,” Dec. 6):

Your response quoted a document from 1986. There is a more recent document from the Apostolic Penitentiary (January 2000) that specifies “20 days” in parentheses next to the word “several” regarding the number of days within which one should confess to receive the plenary indulgence.

Thanks for clearing up this matter. It is obvious that the subject could use more exposure by all. There are souls at risk.

May I recommend the indulgences calendar published by Bridegroom Press? It is handy and thorough. The publisher there has been my guide in understanding the practice.

Peace of Christ!

James Kurt

Jersey City, New Jersey

Distorted Thinking

I found some of the conclusions reached in the John Jay Study about sexual abuse (Dec. 20 article) rather curious.

To me, saying that the sexual abuse should not be linked to homosexuality in spite of the fact that 80% of the abused were boys vs. 20% girls is kind of like saying that “Although 80% of the victims of lung cancer are smokers, this should not be a reason to link lung cancer to smoking.”

And then they make the strange statement, “It’s important to separate the personal identity and the behavior.” Seems like this is distorted thinking to claim that homosexuality is “personal identity.” Isn’t homosexuality defined by homosexual behavior? Otherwise wouldn’t that be like trying to define the alcoholic apart from the alcohol which drives his actions?

And they were paid $1.8 million to conduct this study? Amazing!

I noticed that they did mention sexual abuse in other institutions. Did they point out anywhere in this study that the frequency of child sexual abuse in places such as public schools has been reported to be as high as 100 times that alleged to have been done by Catholic priests? (That was in your paper.)

Terry Hornback

Wichita, Kansas

Why the Investigation?

Regarding your coverage of the apostolic visitation of U.S. women’s religious communities: I would like to commend the bishops of California and the leadership of the Conference of Major Superiors of Men for its public statement of support for the religious women of the U.S.

I find it puzzling to understand why the Vatican sees the necessity to “investigate” our religious women, who have sacrificed so much and contributed selflessly to the growth and beauty of the American Church, from St. Elizabeth Seton to the present dedicated women of our time. Teaching, working in hospitals, orphanages and other social ministries, visiting the sick, engaging in religious and sacramental education, etc. since the beginning of our country, they have had an immense impact on our Catholic Church’s place in our nation.

Despite the sometimes caricatures of the nun with the ruler, they are held in great esteem by most Catholics and a good number of non-Catholics.

I applaud the statements of California bishops and leaders of male religious and would very much like to see a grassroots movement among both clergy and laity, individuals and parish organizations writing to the apostolic nuncio in Washington to let him and the Vatican know the esteem and honor in which we American Catholics hold our religious women. They deserve our support and thanks.

Rev. Xavier Colavechio, O. Praem.

DePere, Wisconsin

The editor responds: Cardinal Franc Rodé, head of the Vatican office overseeing religious orders, holds U.S. religious women in esteem and honor, as shown on numerous occasions, including his talk at the Symposium on Consecrated Life held Sept. 27, 2008, at Stonehill College in Easton, Mass., available at on Oct. 13, 2008, and his comments about the visitation on a CNS news story Nov. 5, 2009.

Confusing the Issue

In “When Human Life Begins” (Dec. 20), Maureen Condic of The Westchester Institute for Ethics & the Human Person explains that “(T)here’s no argument about the fact that embryos are human beings from a scientifically well-defined ‘moment of conception.’”

Where the article becomes imprecise and confused is in its wording of when society “assigns” or “confers” rights to the human being as a person.

In Evangelium Vitae, Pope John Paul II wrote: “What is at stake is so important that, from the standpoint of moral obligation, the mere probability that a human person is involved would suffice to justify an absolutely clear prohibition of any intervention aimed at killing a human embryo.” He goes on: “The human being is to be respected and treated as a person from the moment of conception (emphasis added) …” as a presumed “unity of body and soul.” The probability of this unity in the embryo — and the moral obligation it entails — remains distinct from the scientific unity, however valuable, appealed to by Condic (that of a new cell working to “carry on the activities of life”) or any other “scientific debates and (those) philosophical affirmations to which the magisterium has not expressly committed itself.”

Human rights are prior to society and intrinsic to the person. Condic’s reference to our conditional and civil rights “to drive cars, vote or drink alcohol” is beside the point and, unfortunately, confuses the issue. It is an abuse of power for society to destroy concrete human persons — including the probable body/soul unity of the embryo — by presuming to “assign/confer,” or not, the unconditional human right simply to live.

Peter Beaulieu

Shoreline, Washington

Courageous Bishops

Regarding “Catholic Campaign Scrutinized” (Nov. 29): Besides groups like American Life League and Human Life International, five bishops are not supporting the Catholic Campaign for Human Development. It is most unusual for bishops not to be united. These bishops, Bishops Fabian Bruskewitz, John Barres, Robert Morlino, Robert Baker and Victor Galeone should be commended for their courage.

Catholic Campaign funds organizations that support abortion and homosexuality. “Faithful Catholics” should help those in need directly, such as contributing to food pantries. 

Joel Fago

Sierra Vista, Arizona